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College of Architecture and Planning University of Colorado Denver

College of Architecture & Planning
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College of Architecture and Planning

IMPORTANT: The MLA program is now a part of WICHE-WRGP (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education - Western Regional Graduate Program), which allows residents of any of the 15 member states to pay Colorado resident tuition. Students who are residents of non-WICHE states can qualify for resident tuition after one year of Colorado residency.   


The department's mission is to educate students to lead design and planning processes to create health, well-being, and environmental resilience through design in the public realm.

We deliver a fully accredited Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) for first professional degree students and post-professional students (those already holding a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or Bachelor of Architecture degree). Our program balances theory and practice, and emphasizes design to support human well-being and environmental balance.   

The MLA curriculum thoughtfully integrates theory and practice, and revolves around a sequence of design studios, supported by core content classes and seminar courses on a variety of relevant topics. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the fundamental knowledge, skills, and critical and creative thinking necessary to succeed as landscape architects while also offering opportunities to focus on particular areas of interest. The curriculum promotes an ethic of responsibility, grounded in natural systems and processes and an understanding of cultural and community values. Our educational program operates fluidly in both local and global contexts and at a variety of scales, taking advantage of the wide range of highly dynamic landscapes, opportunities and issues in the immediate vicinity, ranging from urban cores to the wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountains, from suburban sprawl to ranching and farming communities, as well as providing exciting opportunities for experiences across the U.S. and globally. Students gain skills by working on relevant urban and rural projects, often directly engaging with diverse communities and places. Studios and courses engage current issues, define future trends, and explore the role of landscape architecture in a rapidly changing world. Throughout the program, our students learn and apply design and planning skills that use established and emergent technologies and design approaches to enhance community, foster equity, remediate environmental balance, conserve and regenerate resources, and create places that hold value for current and future generations.  

Denver’s vibrant professional design and planning community supports our students through guest lectures and participation in design reviews, internships and mentor programs, and opportunities to visit offices and meet practitioners and leaders in our field.


The MLA program is preparing students to address current and future problems and challenges in local, regional and global contexts. An issues-based approach ensures that students will be exposed to and participate in the development of new responses to emergent and ongoing crises and opportunities, emphasizing environmental and social justice as a key element for the design of livable, sustainable and resilient places and landscapes. The department has been involved in the recovery of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, working with the local community for five years. The Learning Landscapes program has successfully redesigned almost 100 schoolyards in Denver. We have addressed issues of water, food scarcity and urban agriculture, the redesign and recovery of post-industrial sites and mining landscapes, issues of health and livability in disadvantaged communities and neighborhoods, the redesign of storm water systems on various scales to respond to catastrophic flooding, developed scaled strategies and approaches to adapt to wildfires. Many of these projects have involved multiple classes over several years, and have made major impacts on the places and communities. Students are immersed in opportunities to not just learn, but to make meaningful change, and interact with community members and professionals from many different backgrounds and disciplines, gaining invaluable experience and skills in working and communicating in interdisciplinary teams.

Big Thinking

We believe that the issues, challenges and opportunities landscape architects face are interrelated, spanning all scales from a small private yard to neighborhood to city to region to the world, and involve a wide range of social, cultural, ecological and economic systems, requiring critical and creative thinking that transcends scales and is cross-, trans- and interdisciplinary. 

Critical Issues

We strongly believe that Landscape Architecture is uniquely positioned to make major contributions to the big and urgent questions and issues that affect human and non-human systems. Climate change, resource scarcity, water and food are as critical as the design and building of landscapes and places that are about more than just sustainability and resilience and provide opportunities for people to thrive. 

Meaningful Change

While the functioning and performances of human and non-human systems are critical, good design does more than to just provide solutions to problems. It provides opportunities for people to interact with places over time, it empowers them to understand they dynamics that affect their environments and to participate in the ongoing processes of changing place and changing communities, thus becoming authors and co-authors of the places they shape and inhabit. 


The Department of Landscape Architecture consists of tenured/tenure-track faculty, instructors, and part-time lecturers with diverse backgrounds and interests who share a passion for teaching, research and practice. They provide a wide range of experience and different perspectives and approaches to landscapes, places and communities and the processes that change them. Faculty members are engaged in scholarship and research as well as traditional and emergent forms of practice, and integrate those into the courses they are teaching, exposing students to the width, breadth and depth of the discipline and to current and future issues and opportunities. To learn more about our faculty members, please visit the MLA Faculty directory.


The faculty is committed to the success of our students. Our students, with their diverse backgrounds, experiences and aspirations, are an integral part of a learning environment that offers exceptional instruction, provides deep and broad knowledge of landscape architecture and related fields, fosters the development of skills, critical and creative thinking, exposes students to a wide range of values, perspectives and professional expertise, involves them in ongoing research and real-world-projects with actual impacts on places and communities, and supports them in developing and pursuing their interests and career paths. For more information about our students, and to view sample student projects, please visit the Student Projects page (forthcoming).


Our MLA alumni work in positions and industries ranging from public agencies to private firms and non-profit groups. Employers include the National Park Service and municipal parks and planning departments in metro Denver and Colorado’s mountain communities and across the nation. Graduates also enter positions with top local and regional design firms such as Civitas, Inc., Wenk Associates and Norris Design as well as national and international firms such as Hargreaves Associates, RNL, AECOM, Design Workshop, OLIN, Peter Walker Partners, and Snohetta. Many of these firms are interdisciplinary and renowned for their unique approaches to diverse projects. Several alumni hold leadership positions in these prominent firms. Alumni also joined faculty at respected landscape architecture programs across the country, including the University of Illinois, Colorado State, Iowa State, Arizona State, Kansas State and Pennsylvania State universities. Finally, innovative and entrepreneurial students have started their own landscape architecture and design build companies, or have used their design skills to create opportunities, positions and jobs that suit their unique passions and interests.  



  • Students have extensive opportunities for civic engagement, including paid internships at the college’s Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD), providing diverse opportunities to work directly with and in communities across the state, and the unique and ground-breaking Learning Landscapes program whose mission is to build public places that support the well-being of children through increased exercise, access to open space and community gathering places, experiencing and working in gardens, and more. At 96 schoolyards and counting, Learning Landscapes has provided Denver's children with great places to play. 

  • The practice of landscape architecture is now global, and this department is a leader in providing international study opportunities.

  • Opportunities to develop international partnerships with our diverse body of international and domestic students, and travel study courses offered annually.  The department offers a dual degree with Tongji University in Shanghai, China. This prestigious program is unique for MLA students in the United States. Selected MLA students from CU Denver spend two semesters at Tongji University and MLA students from Tongji spend two semesters at CU Denver in a direct one-to-one student exchange. Students who participate in the program take rigorous courses, write a thesis, and participate in an internship experience; they graduate with MLA degrees from both CU Denver and Tongji University and enter the profession with valuable international experience and connections.  
  • The certificate in Geospatial Information Science for Landscape Architecture offers an opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and critical context through cross-disciplinary study in  the rapidly developing and progressively relevant platform of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). 
  • Our students engage in research with faculty and on their own through optional independent studies and thesis.  They have presented at local, national and international conferences and symposia such as the National Park Service Western Region CESU Conference, Environmental Design Research Association, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, and International Green Roof Conference. 
  • R O O T is the student-run landscape architecture journal. We have published seven volumes since its inception, and it received an honorable mention in the national competition for the Douglas Haskell Award for Student Journals in 2011. 
  • Student organizations include Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Urban Horticulture Club, and Sigma Lambda Alpha, the landscape architecture national honor society. 



Programs accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) are required to provide reliable information to the public. Programs must report on accreditation status and its performance. This information is to help potential students make informed application decisions. To review this information, click here.

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